So lunch detention it is. I hold it twice a week. They buy their lunch and then they sit silently in my room for 25 minutes or so while I do work at my desk. Usually it works great.
Two years ago I had a very difficult group of kids. They didn't do homework. They didn't behave. They talked and argued and fought and threw stuff all period. They made me cry (I would wait until they left) on more than one occasion. These were the kids that everyone had heard about. They raised terror for 6th and 7th grade. Needless to say, they spent a lot of lunch periods in my room.
One day about halfway through the year I'm telling some kid to be quiet because there is no talking during lunch detention and some other kid says to him, "What are you doing here? You don't even have lunch detention today." I checked my detention sheet and he was right. I just had to laugh. The kid said he was there because everyone else from his table was coming so he just figured he'd come too.
It turns out the kids had started to enjoy having lunch in my room.
Clearly giving lunch detention as a punishment had lost its effectiveness. But what I had was even better. They wanted to be there so I turned it into an incentive for being good. If they started to cross the line during class all I would have to do was quietly tell them they wouldn't be able to come for lunch the next day and they would stop.
We had a deal: lunch became their time and class became my time. During lunch we would talk about whatever they want. I got all the good gossip. We talked about weekends and families and girlfriends and all the other crazy drama they had going on. I would make fun of the weird things they would eat everyday (seriously, who puts mayo on pizza?!) During class they got their work done and listened to me.
Their lunch period was one of my prep periods. I certainly didn't have to spend it with kids, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything in the world.
It definitely gave me a new outlook on things. I learned that we should never label (even in our own head) a kid as the "bad kid" because you never know who they could turn out to be if you get through to them.
The kids that drove me to tears turned out to be the most special group of kids I've ever. At the end of the year one of those kids actually told me that lunch was one of the only reasons he came to school everyday. Stuff like that is what makes is all worth it.